Cigarette dealer cleared of murder on LI

May 1, 2008 8:59:30 AM PDT
The owner of an Indian reservation smoke shop on eastern Long Island has been convicted of racketeering conspiracy for supplying millions of black market cigarettes, but acquitted of charges that he ordered rival dealers beaten and murdered. A federal jury deliberated over a month before delivering the split verdict in the case of Mastic cigarette dealer Rodney Morrison. The marathon trial began in November.

The jury refused to convict Morrison of the most heinous charge - an allegation that he ordered the slaying of a one-time business protege in Brooklyn to punish him for opening a rival smoke shop.

The jury sided with prosecutors in their claim that Morrison sold millions of contraband cigarettes without the required state tax stamps.